Put your hand you if you know the meaning of the word, or whatever you want to call it of “ISH”
Well done, 10 out of 10
Now put your hand up if you know the weight, length, or exact quantifiable measure of the word “ISH”
Ah, not so easy, is it
Finally, put your and up if you honestly think you could fully explain both of the above to someone for whom English is second or third language
Any takers, anyone brave enough to do so?
I didn’t think so, but here is word, a very small word, that most English or English speakers use every day without thinking. We can’t define what it means, we can’t never measure it, and if pushed to do either we generally reply with the immortal if meaningless answer of
” There or thereabouts; you know what I mean !”
That’s great if you are English, or if you understand all the peculiar nuances that makes of the English language, but how would you react if the person you were speaking to simply said
Maybe you have been lucky to avoid such situation, but I haven’t been so lucky, and to demonstrate what a dangerous little word “ISH” can be, I invite you all to join me on the banks of the Thames
Many years ago my wife and myself used to meet in central London so as to enjoy each others company and listen to a classical music concert. She would travel from North London, while I traveled from southwest London, and, more often than not we would meet at the Embankment station on the river Thames
So what, you might ask yourself, thousands of Royal Festival Hall and classical music devotees made the same journey due to variable work commitments. They to would often meet at Embankment station, and all to often they would meet at an approximately agreed time
For us there was one small but very significant problem, and that problem was summed up by the word/ suffix/adverb/ or however you want to define it, of “ISH”. No once more I anticipate one of to screams of indignation. We all know what “ISH” means, I hear some readers protesting, just as we all know what we mean by such terms as six-ISH, heavy-ISH, or pink-ISH, or pretty-ISH, but even, in our own minds, we know what we are talking about, just think of the poor recipient of our thoughts or words. It is bad enough if you are talking to a native English speaker, but our position was a little different.
My wife is Czech by birth, and within her native language the word “ISH”, has no place or meaning. Reliably punctual by nature she had the galling knowledge that when she arrived on time, her partner might not be there, and even if she were to contact him to find out what was going on, all she heard in reply was,
“Sorrry to keep yiouy waiting, I’ll be there A.S.A.P; about six-ISH, the ways things are going”
Mercifully, all my sins were forgiven,we are now nigh on twenty years into a happy marriage, but “ish” has now become a regular part of our relationship, but maybe, as English speakers, we should clarify what me mean by the word “ISH”.
So what does everybody reckon on this subject. Has the word “ISH” any definable quality or quantities, do we as users of the word have nay idea what we are talking about, and if faced with explaining what we meant by it’s usage to a non native English speaker, how do you think that might be done
I love the word though, despite it’s peculiar nature. It’s like so many other words, phrases, and idioms within the English language. It has no real meaning, it has no definable limits, and it’s origins have probably been swallowed up in the mists of time, but thank God it is there, and that God it has a much loved permanent place in the English language and psyche, for we love to use it all the time.
See you soon-ISH, have a nice-ISH day!